With this long and bizarre Serie A season finally finished let's take a moment to point out some numbers behind the game. I’m using fbref.com for this, so apologies if you’re seeing data somewhere else that contradicts what I’m sharing. I’ll be going through the "starting XI" along with some other major contributors by pointing out stats that surprised or were interesting to me along with a quick commentary. Numbers never tell us the full picture but sometimes they help identify things maybe we missed while we’re watching 90 minutes of uninterrupted action. So let’s begin!
Bartlomiej Dragowski - Stat: Launch Completion Percentage = 36.3%
GK stats are limited as most advanced analytics are more focused on the outfield players. With that in mind, the stats show Bart as an average keeper in the league this season. I’m biased for sure but I’m calling malarkey on that because Bart had some impressive games.
"Launched Pass" is an attempted pass of over 40 yards. Compatriot Wojciech Szczesny led the league with 54.2% while Bart’s percentage had him ranked 21st. This could be tactical as the Viola did like to play out from the back and Pietro Terracciano was even worse at 29.7%. It should be noted that Bart’s Long Pass stats were also poor so it is a part of his game he could stand to improve on.
Dalbert - Stat: Crosses into the Penalty Area = 26
Dalbert led the team with Crosses into the Penalty Area and was ranked 4th in the league. Lirola was next on the team with 11, ranking him 44th in the league. For further perspective, Cristiano Biraghi, finished with 22 but with 5 less matches played.
Martin Caceres - Stat: Long Pass Completion Percentage = 69.9%
Long passes are measured as an attempt of 25 yards or longer. Of the three starting CBs, Caceres was the lowest by nearly 10% while also attempting the fewest. If the Viola plan on continuing to have the CBs progress play from the back, they might want to consider playing Igor or Ceccherini more with 79.7% and 81% respectively (albeit, smaller sample sizes).
German Pezzella - Stat: Interceptions = 56 (Bonus Stat: Successful Pressure % = 38.9%)
O Captain, My Captain! Led the team in interceptions and by a wide margin compared to the other CBs in the lineup. Also was 2nd on the team with Successful Pressure Percentage (Ceccherini led with 44% but with 200 less attempts) which measures the success rate of the squad gaining possession back after applying pressure.
Nikola Milenkovic - Stat: Goals minus Expected Goals = +2.1
Milenkovic had some solid stats all over the place like an impressive tackle percentage against dribblers or team leading tackles won but after a career high 5 goals I think the +2.1 Goals minus Expected Goals jumps out to me. Simply put, the analytics are telling us that of those 5, two of them were truly difficult to score for an average player, so bravo to the Mountain!
Pol Lirola - Stat: Shot Creating Actions = 68 (Bonus Stat: Goal Creating Action = 5)
I was weirdly excited for Lirola to join the Viola this year after learning he was a product of the Periquitos. I think it is somewhat safe to say he had an uneven season. Lirola was 5th on the team in Shot Creating Actions which sounds good and all. Compare it to his opposite, Dalbert and maybe not so much? SCA = 63 and GCA = 8 for the Brazilian. So Pol was doing work to get the team shots but unfortunately they were not leading to goals. Context is everything and with how allergic the Viola were to goal scoring at times, maybe Pol will see those numbers grow?
Erick Pulgar - Stat: Tackles Plus Interceptions = 117
Another player I’d say had an up and down season but relatively strong after the restart. The midfield rotation should be excellent and a strength for this team moving forward. Pulgar led the team and finished in the top 15 for Tackles plus Interceptions in Serie A (top 7 if you compare it against only midfielders).
Milan Badelj - Stat: Interceptions = 42
The Badelj glory days are before my Fiorentina fandom but it appears that the player he was is well passed. I was often surprised how many times he was chosen to start because the midfield just looked out matched with him playing. So I’ll admit I was surprised to see him 3rd on the team with 42 interceptions. Clearly he knows where to be and can anticipate build up play but physically just can no longer keep up.
Gaetano Castrovilli - Stat: Successful Dribbles Completed Percentage = 69.6%
What a revelation Castro was this season! Probably not a shock that he led the team in both dribble attempts (135) and successes (94) with the next closest being Chiesa (92 and 60). What is more impressive is the fact that Castro, in his first season in Serie A, ranked 2nd in successes (well behind Jeremie Boga’s mind boggling 140 successes). If you all want to get more hyped for next season, Sofyan Amrabat was literally right behind Castrovilli. Amrabat finished with 111 attempts with 84 successful dribbles bringing in 75.7%!
Franck Ribery - Stat: Goal Creating Actions per 90 minutes = 0.64
It will be interesting to see if Franck returns next season. The man is clearly the most talented on ball player for the Viola but you can argue that the offense looks much more lively with him off the pitch. Franck led the team in Goal Creating Actions per 90 minutes quite comfortably with Chiesa next at 0.48. If Viola can start converting some of their chances in front of goal, this number will go up. Can Beppe figure out how to make him work in this system that doesn’t value possession?
Federico Chiesa - Stat: Shots = 109
This jumped out at me because the next closest player was Dusan Vlahovic with 64 shots. This also ranked Freddy 7th overall in Serie A. Fiorentina were not overly impressive in total shots as a team, finishing 11th in the league with 543. His Shot on Target Percentage was fine when compared to other players in the top 10 of Shots. If Freddy can start converting more of these then the future is bright for the offense.
Patrick Cutrone - Stat: Shot on Target Percentage = 54.5%
Cutrone gives me hope that we have a goal scorer on the team heading into the next season. That’s not to say we won’t see reinforcements or a shuffling but in the right situation or matchup Cutrone is a Serie A player. It is a small sample size (22 total shots, 12 on target) though.
Alfred Duncan - Stat: Successful Pressure Percentage = 32.9 %
Similar to Cutrone in the sense that we are working with a smaller sample size but Duncan led all non-defenders in Pressure Percentage which is encouraging. The midfield rotation next season will be exciting.
Christian Kouame - Stat: Points Per Match = 1.71
Okay, again, small sample size. Plus this is more a "team stat" than an individual metric. To me though, Kouame was kind of a turning point for our offense. He has some growing to do still but he provides the potential hold up play and distribution on a counter attack that the team was missing. If Fiorentina can play at 1.71 points per match for a full season they’d finish with 65 points. That would have been good enough for 7th and just flirting around a European position.
Well that’s enough from me friends! Please share anything you found interesting or want to talk about. Big shout out to the Viola Nation crew for making the restart so much fun. Looking forward to more articles, podcasts and whatever else is to come.